Meg Procopio on What Pastors Need from Therapists | FP 31

Meg Procopio on What Pastors Need from Therapists | FP 31

Are you wanting to build a relationship with the church? How can you approach that first connection with a church? What qualities are pastors looking for in their relationships with therapists?

In this podcast episode, Whitney Owens speaks to Meg Procopio about what pastors need from therapists.

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Tired of never quite feeling comfortable with your practice financials? I’d like you to meet GreenOak Accounting. Their goal is to empower private practice owners with the financial information they need to make good business decisions. They specialize in working with solo and group private practices in the mental health industry, so they are uniquely positioned to help with figuring out what’s “normal” in your business finances and what’s not. So if you’ve ever had a conversation with your accountant or bookkeeper that left you wishing that they understood private practice or had some best practices to share, head over to www.greenoakaccounting.com and schedule a free consultation to see if they might be a good fit for you. They can help with all your accounting needs from bookkeeping to payroll to Profit First and budgeting & forecasting.

Meet Meg Procopio

Meg Procopio

Meg Procopio has been an ordained minister with the Methodist Church since 1997. She earned an undergraduate degree in Christian Education from Lagrange College and from there went to seminary where she graduated from United Theological.

Meg is also a Daring Way facilitator under Brene Brown. Meg is married to Frank and they have one daughter, who is also a minister. Meg loves Yoga and Orange Theory.

Visit the Isle of Hope website and get in touch with Meg at mprocopio@iohumc.com

In This Podcast

Summary

  • The Daring Way
  • Congregational Care
  • When to refer to a professional
  • The qualities Meg looks for in a therapist
  • What counselors can do to make the transition from going to church to getting counseling easier
  • Roadblocks that might stop a pastor referring to a counselor
  • How counselors can approach that first connection with a church

The Daring Way

Meg has been involved in many different areas of ministry, currently including congregational care, staff, and congregational development. After reading Dr. Brené Brown’s book, ‘The Gifts of Imperfection,” Meg was intrigued about her honesty, her transparency, and also this set of tools that she offers through her work – a toolbox of ways of connecting with people around shame and the core belief that we’re all loved and worthy of belonging. In Dr. Brown’s arena, it is mostly caring professionals, counselors, and social workers, but she will allow clergy to be certified if they have a governing body. The process of certification starts with a couple of weeks of face-to-face work with counseling and social work professionals. After this, it is a year-long process working with one of Dr. Brown’s senior staff and going through the curriculum, teaching the curriculum, and then processing that each month. Once that 12-month process is complete, you then have to apply.

Congregational Care

Meg has been with Isle of Hope for 24 years. She discovered that one of the areas that was in need of structure and systems was congregational care. She needed to deal with one of the church’s core values, presence, and how their congregation who were ill or of an age where they could not be physically present, could still be a part of the church. She started thinking about developing charities that could take communion, just sit, visit, and listen, or be attentive to people going through treatment when ill. Dr. Brown’s tools helped them do that well. Looking at congregational care in that way opened up a lot of avenues into being with people.

When to refer to a professional

We as clergy and helping professionals within the church have to walk a really narrow road into what our skill set is. And, of course, we want to sit and we want to listen, and hopefully, through wisdom and discernment, be attentive, but also be very aware that for most of us, unless we’ve done the work, we’re not professional counselors. And so, for us to try to do that is really unfaithful to who we are and to our call.

When people of faith are in crisis, the church is usually their first stop. Meg will always meet with people, and sometimes the need is just for her to sit, listen, and be present, but other times it is really important to refer. Meg looks carefully at her relationship with counselors so that she is able to help people get the professional help that they need.

The qualities Meg looks for in a therapist

  1. Generous theology – the counselor is to be really well-rounded, to listen carefully, and be able to lead and guide in ways that are life-giving.
  2. Availability – someone who will take her call and understand that the reason she is calling is very important.
  3. Skill-based approach – people should be able to leave counseling with tools, ones that help them navigate the time between sessions.

What counselors can do to make the transition from going to church to getting counseling easier

Trust is important, there needs to be a good working relationship between the clergy and the counseling agency. Get the release of information and listen to the pastor’s experience and the backstory. Connecting with mental health resources when someone is in crisis is hard. Knowing what steps need to be taken to get someone the help that they need is hard so having a counselor available over the phone to walk her through the next steps is valuable.

Roadblocks that might stop a pastor referring to a counselor

Not being available. The relationship between the pastor and the counselor is so important, if that relationship is not there then the pastor won’t refer the client. Financial resources are also very important, the church will look for practices that take insurance, make it affordable, and are willing to partner with the church when the church offers to help financially.

How counselors can approach that first connection with a church

Pick up the phone and ask them to meet you. Share about your practice, your theological understanding, your approach to care, and your approach to counseling. Face-to-face is always the most productive. Clergy are always looking for community health and mental health help so Meg thinks that most clergy would welcome you stopping by or making an appointment to meet.

Relationships take time but they are important and they benefit everyone. Maintain the relationship – if you haven’t heard from the church or haven’t had any referrals in a while, check-in, send an email, remind them that you are there and available. If you’re doing a workshop or offering something to the community, let the church know about it.

Schedule a pre-consult call with Whitney to see if the Mastermind, which is launching on June 11th, is the right fit for you.

Books mentioned in this episode

Useful Links:

Meet Whitney Owens

Whitney Ownens | Build a faith-based practiceWhitney is a licensed professional counselor and owns a growing group practice in Savannah, Georgia. Along with a wealth of experience managing a practice, she also has an extensive history working in a variety of clinical and religious settings, allowing her to specialize in consulting for faith-based practices and those wanting to connect with religious organizations.

Knowing the pains and difficulties surrounding building a private practice, she started this podcast to help clinicians start, grow, and scale a faith-based practice. She has learned how to start and grow a successful practice that adheres to her own faith and values. And as a private practice consultant, she has helped many clinicians do the same.

Thanks For Listening!

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Podcast Transcription

[WHITNEY]:
Tired of never quite feeling comfortable with your practice financials? I’d like you to meet Green Oak Accounting. Their goal is to empower private practice owners with the financial information they need to make good business decisions. They specialize in working with solo and group practices in the mental health industry. So, they are uniquely positioned to help with figuring out what is normal in your business finances and what is not. So, if you’ve ever had a conversation with your accountant or bookkeeper that left you wishing that they understood private practice, or had some best practices to share, head on over to greenoakaccounting.com and schedule a free consultation to see if they may be a good fit for you. They can help with all your accounting needs from bookkeeping to payroll to profit first and budgeting and forecasting.

Welcome to the Faith in Practice podcast. I’m your host Whitney Owens reporting live from Savannah, Georgia. I’m a licensed professional counselor, group practice owner and a private practice consultant. And each week through personal story, or amazing interviews, I will help you learn how to start, grow and scale your private practice from a faith-based perspective. Today is interview with Meg Procopio. I just love saying her name Procopio. It’s a name that you’re always going to remember, right? And so, in the episode today, she’s going to talk about what pastors and laypeople lay ministers, I guess, need from clinicians. So, I’m always harping on this idea that I want you to capitalize on all your relationships as an opportunity to tell people about your practice, an opportunity to make more connections, and this relationship that I have with Meg Procopio is the perfect example of that. When I moved to Savannah, Georgia, was five, six years ago, my husband is a youth pastor and so he was meeting with some other youth pastor people. And I say to them, “Oh, yeah, I’m a therapist. I’m looking to make connections in the community so that people can know about my practice.” And they say, “Oh, you have got to connect with Meg Procopio.” And that is a name that you do not forget. And I was blown away because… Meg had been the youth pastor at my church when I was a child. So, my brothers, embarrassingly enough, they were in the youth group, doing crazy things and she knew all about it, and I was the goody two shoes little elementary school kid. And so, as soon as they said Meg Procopio, I picked up the phone and called her and said, “Do you remember me?” And she said, “Of course.” And it was a beautiful reconnection over the phone and then we met up for coffee. And I told her about my practice and what I was doing in Savannah. And it was amazing timing because she at the moment, that moment was looking for more therapists to refer to, that has similar integration in the way that they do their faith, in the way that they do counseling. And so, we made this awesome reconnection because I connected with someone else, who remembered Meg, who said Meg’s name, and I remembered Meg from when I was a kid, and just things can come back around. So, I want to encourage you to always be sharing with people about the work that you’re doing, because you never know what relationships are going to come around and you never know who’s going to tell who about your practice. And people need to hear about you just like that day, Meg needed to hear about my practice. And so, since then we have formed this beautiful relationship where she can call me, we can chat about different mental health things, different spiritual things. And so, when she needs to refer somebody pretty quickly, she can pick up the phone and call. And I feel like it’s a real honor to be that person on the other end that’s receiving that call. And so, I think in today’s episode, you’re going to learn tons about what ministers are looking for when referring to therapists. And so, this is going to be an interview with Meg Procopio.

Welcome to the Faith in Practice podcast. I have Meg Procopio here with me today. She is a current pastor over at Isle of Hope United Methodist Church here in Savannah, Georgia, where she’s been working for over 24 years. She’s also an ordained minister at the United Methodist Church since 1996. She did her undergrad at Lagrange College and got a degree in Christian Education. And then later went on to seminary and graduated from United Theological. Meg is also a Daring Way facilitator with the Brené Brown Organization. She’s married to Frank and has one daughter, who also is in ministry doing work with students. Meg loves yoga and Orangetheory. Hey, Meg.

[MEG]:
Good morning, good to be with you, Whitney.

[WHITNEY]:
Yes, so glad to have you on the show. So today, Meg’s gonna speak to us about what it’s like, from a pastoral perspective, when counselors are calling and trying to make a connection, but also what are pastors kind of looking for when they’re referring to counselors? So, we’re going to talk about that today. But Meg, why don’t we talk first, a little bit about you and tell people about your experience with Brené Brown and the Daring Way.

[MEG]:
Oh yeah, so, I’ve been in ministry for a really long time and my road in ministry is a pretty winding one. I’ve done a lot of different areas of ministry growing from student ministries to Christian education, congregational care, and recently have transitioned, especially for our staff, into staff development. So, I’ve got my hands in the congregational area as well as in staff, and congregational development. So, when I heard about Dr. Brené Brown and I read her book, The Gifts of Imperfection, I was just really intrigued. I was intrigued about our honesty and our transparency but also this set of tools, that was just so helpful. I felt like I had the religious piece I had the faith piece, but especially when walking with people who hurt, she offered through her work, this tool belt, this toolbox of lots of ways of connecting with people around shame and around just the real core belief that we’re all loved and worthy of belonging. And she gave you the roadmap of how to connect with people there.

[WHITNEY]:
Yeah. Can you explain a little more about the facilitator piece? So, if somebody was really interested in getting, I guess you’d say credentialed or registered, like, what’s that process? Because I’ve heard several therapists bring this up before.

[MEG]:
Yeah, and one of the things that’s unique I think about her work is that in her arena, it’s mostly caring professionals, mostly counselors and social workers. But she will allow clergy to be certified in her work if there’s a governing body that oversees checks and balances, insurance, that kind of thing. And the United Methodist Church has that. So, when I went out to Texas, which is where she’s from, I found myself maybe 5% of the population. And that was really intriguing to spend a couple of weeks being certified in her work, face to face with the counseling and social work professionals. It was a real eye opening and wonderful experience. And then from there after you’ve done this face to face certification, then it’s a year long process, working with one of her senior staff, and actually going through the curriculum, teaching the curriculum, and then processing that each month. So, it’s a 12-month process after that with one of her staff. And then you have to, you know, apply.

[WHITNEY]:
Sure, sure. That’s wonderful. I bet it was fun to be with all those therapists. I love going to conference and it’s in like, because therapists just get right down to it. You know, we don’t know mess around. And it’s like this wonderful deep conversation. I’m sure you fit right in.

[MEG]:
Well, it was wonderful and a set of tools and skills that I really wanted to layer into the ministry, and my approach with caring and walking with people. So, I was really grateful to have that piece.

[WHITNEY]:
Yeah, yeah. So, you kind of already touched on this, but talk a little bit about your role at Isle of Hope, and how do you kind of end up connecting with people and needing to make referrals for counseling?

[MEG]:
Yeah, so my role started out at Isle of Hope, and it’s pretty unusual to stay in a place for 24 years, especially in the United Methodist Church, we tend to move around a bit. But, as I was looking at our church, one of the areas that was in real need of structure and systems was congregational care, and so as I started looking at that, one of the core values and also vows that we, in the United Methodist Church, say that we’ll support the church and we’ll support our relationship with God, with our prayers, our presence, our gifts, our service, and our witness. And I kept looking at that presence piece. And so how do you care for people who have been present their whole lives and then through either illness, or sickness or age, are no longer able to actually be physical, bring their physical presence. And so, I was looking at how is the church faithful and present? And so, I started thinking about developing charities that we could take communion, or just sit and visit and listen, or be attentive to people who were going through treatment because they were ill. And so that piece with Brené Brown helped us to do that well. And so, looking at congregational care in that way, really opened up a lot of avenues into being with people.

[WHITNEY]:
That’s, that’s wonderful that you kind of saw what was the missing piece, you know, and found a way to meet that need in a sustainable way. Yeah, so, when people are coming into your office, how do you make the determination between you meeting with them regularly to kind of help them out? Or when do I know that I need to refer to like a professional counselor?

[MEG]:
That is an excellent question because the church has become the sort of Grand Central for all sorts of needs. And when people are in crisis, or they’re hurting, or they’re grieving, if they’re people of faith, usually the church is the first stop. And we as clergy and helping professionals within the church have to walk a really narrow road into what our skill set is. And, of course, we want to sit and we want to listen, and hopefully, through wisdom and discernment, be attentive, but also be very aware that for most of us, unless we’ve done the work, we’re not professional counselors. And so, for us to try to do that is really unfaithful to who we are and to our call. So, just to answer your question there, is that one of the things that I do is I always meet with people, and sometimes it is the need to sit and to listen and to be present. And at other times, it’s really important to refer and so I look carefully for a relationship with counselors that I’m able to do that with to help people get the professional care that they need.

[WHITNEY]:
Yeah, that is really a fine line. And we even find that in other settings as a counselor, I go somewhere and everyone wants to tell me their problems because they know I’m the therapist, right? Okay, well, where’s that line between, I can be your friend and help you with something but, I need to really refer you to someone else. It is always a fine line. So, when you’re thinking about referring to a counselor, could you kind of give us a few qualities of what you’re looking for in a therapist and why you pick certain maybe counseling agencies or certain therapists to refer to?

[MEG]:
Yeah, that has been an interesting journey for me here in Savannah. And it might sound strange, but the first thing that I look for is theology. And especially if I’m looking at Christian counselors, and until I found Water’s Edge, I really often referred to counselors that didn’t really claim to have that Christian theology behind them and because we can do some real damage in the name of Christianity. You know, for instance, telling a client to go home and love their partner when they’re in the middle of crisis, well that’s not really helpful. Or using scripture that makes divorce a weapon is something that really makes my stomach hurt. So over 30 years ago, one of my professors in a Family Studies class said something to us that I’ve never forgotten. And he was standing at this big desk, and he leaned in and he pulled off his glasses, and he looked over at us and he said, “Men and women, I want to tell you that marriage is a life commitment.” And then he paused. And then he leaned in a little closer, and he said, “but my friends, marriage is never meant to be a life sentence.” And I’ve never forgotten that and I hold that very carefully, because I do believe that marriage is a life commitment. But sometimes people come to us and they’re not in a healthy place. And so, I want a counselor to be really well rounded, to listen carefully and be able to lead and guide in ways that are life-giving. I think oftentimes people don’t come to the church because they don’t want to feel worse about themselves than they already feel. And so, I think that we have to be really careful in being faithful and walking with people, and knowing where they’re at. So, I look for theology, I look for a generous theology. And then I also look for availability, for a counseling colleague to really partner with me. To take my call when I call because I want them to know that I wouldn’t be calling other than if I were with someone in crisis that really needed to be connected. And I believe that counselor is often that connected piece. And they can open doors in ways that others can’t, including pastors. And I look for a skill-based approach. I can listen well and I want that counselor to listen well and give insightful advice, but I also want people to leave with tools, especially that help them navigate the weeks between appointments. And so, a skill-based approach is really important to me those are some of the main things.

[WHITNEY]:
You’re making some really great points here. And I always am telling counselors the importance of getting the release of information when a new client comes in if they were referred by a pastor. If they’re comfortable, get that released, because that pastors got this world of knowledge, not only about that client, but probably about their family too, and they’ve maybe been with them for 20 years. And you can learn so much by kind of partnering with that minister to be able to bring more wholeness and healing to that person. So that’s, yeah. And I also encourage people that if you have a client that comes in that goes to a church, and maybe it’s a church, that you don’t have a relationship with, getting that release of information, reaching out to that minister, just to kind of let them know what’s going on and so that you can partner with them and that they know what’s going on with the people in their church because they want to know.

[WHITNEY]:
Yeah, absolutely.

[WHITNEY]:
Yeah. So, when you’re working with counselors, what can therapists do to make it as easy as possible this, transition of a client coming from a church to come in to get counseling?

[MEG]:
I think the relationship between the clergy and the counseling agencies is key. It’s important to trust each other and to have a good working relationship. I think it’s also helpful to know our boundaries. I think the clergy need to be really well aware of their limitations and their gifts and graces, and not try to do the counselors job. But I do appreciate what you said about listening to our experience because I think we do often have the backstory and it sort of brings that checks and balances between demanding and biting honesty with that client. I find one of the hardest things is to connect with mental health resources, that when someone is in crisis, when they need help immediately, when they’re a danger to themselves or to others, that there seem to be really very few options that feel like good options. And so, knowing how to get someone admitted to the hospital, or when to call 911. And so that’s really, that’s hard for me at times and so often the ability to pick up the phone and have that counselor walk with you when the next step is hard to discern. It’s just so valuable.

[WHITNEY]:
How often would you say that happens, that you’ve like someone within the church or you hear about someone in that kind of a crisis?

[MEG]:
Thankfully, it’s not super often. Often the person is making an appointment and coming into my office to talk and in calmness and trying to weigh our options. We can know what the next step is. But since being in congregational care, I often end the first call with our congregation when there is a crisis. And so, it’s difficult. I mean, it’s easy when someone is threatening to harm themselves or someone else. I mean, that’s a no brainer you call 911 and immediately try to defuse the situation. But other times it’s things like someone in a deep, emotional unraveling, where they need medical attention. They may or may not have insurance, or we may or may not know, do we take them to the emergency room? You have to have a referral sometimes to get into some of the mental care facilities. So that’s when a counselor is so helpful to know, what’s the next right thing?

[WHITNEY]:
Those are really hard questions to navigate even in our mental health world. And I’ve been doing this for 15 years, I’ve worked inpatient psych, but sometimes I’m still kind of like, “What’s the best thing for this person,” and it is really great to have a, for a pastor to have a number of therapists to call and I say this to Meg and all the pastors that I work with, like just call me let’s talk through it and there’s no charge for that because I want to make sure we’re getting people the help they need and so I do think as therapists one thing that we can offer to pastors is just saying, “Hey, here’s my cell phone number. Call me anytime.”

[MEG]:
That’s been a huge gift.

[WHITNEY]:
Yeah, yeah. What do you think are maybe some of the roadblocks that counselors might have in working with pastors like maybe some things that they don’t notice that they’re doing that maybe turn pastors off from referring to them?

[MEG]:
Yeah. I think that the relationship, as we’ve said before, is really important. I often find that it’s a gift. If I can work with a counselor and they will allow me to set up the first appointment for someone. Oftentimes, our church will partner with that parishioner, or the client, financially. I find that if I can help them get in the door and pay for the first session, that they’ll come back. I think for people and we’re getting better at this, at recognizing that asking for help is a strength not a weakness. But oftentimes, I find that especially the church is the place of comfort for people, they’ll find their way to my office, but often find it very difficult to pick up the phone and make that first appointment with an unknown. So, I think whether it’s clergy or someone else that has a relationship that says, “Hey, I think you need more help than I can offer, would you allow me to make the first phone call and that counselor will be expecting your phone call when you actually make the appointment. And if there’s a financial need, let me pair with you at least on the first session,” and then I find that that helps them to actually walk through the door. The other thing of course, is making it affordable, and insurance or whether counselors take insurance, or they don’t take insurance, or whether even the client has insurance, of course, I think the financial resources is another roadblock. And so that’s why we at Isle of Hope try to work with our members in being able to alleviate some of that.

[WHITNEY]:
It’s a wonderful thing that you offer people, because when people call our practice, a lot of times when they’re unable to afford the services, you know, we try to make it a sliding scale for them and make it as affordable as we can. But then sometimes we can say, hey, let’s talk about where you go to church and how can we partner with them and helping you get the services that you need? Because the church is here to help and a lot of churches do have a fund specifically for helping those in need.

[MEG]:
I’ve been really grateful for the church, thinking that that’s important and funding, putting the air in, so that’s been a huge gift in being able to expand our care to our parishioners.

[WHITNEY]:
Yeah, so you were kind of saying this, I want to make sure I heard it right, when we were talking about some of the roadblocks with counselors, so you’d say maybe one of the roadblocks is the therapists maybe not continuing to invest in the relationship or you were talking about the relationship making it difficult? Am I asking it right?

[MEG]:
Um, I think, I’m not sure what you were referring to. But I think when I was talking about being able to get in the door that you were talking about?

[WHITNEY]:
Aha, the relationship.

[MEG]:
Yeah, the relationship with the clergy and the counselor is huge. Because that allows me to be comfortable and know that I can reach you and talk about it, but then also, helping the parishioner who’s sitting in my office, helping them to actually walk through your door is I think the real gift and trying to make that available for them.

[WHITNEY]:
Yes, it is super, super difficult. And I do find that a lot of people, at least that call me will say, “Well, Meg told me to call you.” And so, it’s like, because you have such a strong relationship with them and you trust me, that’s what brings them in the door is they know that Meg’s, not going to steer them in the wrong direction. So, you’re so right, that relationship is so important for getting them in the front door.

[MEG]:
And if you remember years ago, when we were first starting our relationship together, you know, asked you to have coffee with me. And I had done that with several counselors, because I wanted to make sure that if I was sending someone that I felt really comfortable with who I was sending them to, and not causing any more harm in their lives, that they would get the sort of help that I thought was important, and then they get to decide for themselves what, you know, and you get to decide if the relationship continues.

[WHITNEY]:
Yeah, so if a therapist is wanting to start a relationship with the church, maybe it’s a church where they don’t have any kind of connection whatsoever, what would be your advice to that counselor to make that first connection?

[MEG]:
I think that’s important to just pick up the phone and maybe ask them to meet you for coffee, share about your practice and about your theological understanding, and your approach to care, and your approach to counseling. And I mean, I always think face to face is the most productive.

[WHITNEY]:
And that’s how I’ve gotten most of mine. Sometimes it can be really hard or intimidating for therapists, that very first contact, like, do I send an email? Do I call? Do I stop by the church? And so, they feel very uncomfortable about that aspect. But you would say go ahead and just pick up the phone and call?

[MEG]:
Yeah, I would and I would use all of my resources, usually, where especially in Savannah, we’re connected in ways that we don’t even realize. And so, you know, if the counselor is part of a faith community or you’re part of a community agency, usually the clergy are connected in some way, hopefully through the community. So, a lot of times we get our foot in the door through other people, but it’s not I think, I think clergy are always looking for community health and especially mental health help. So, I would say that most clergy would welcome either you stopping by their office and introducing yourself, you know, make an appointment or meet for coffee, and share about your practice, and your availability in wanting to partner with them. And I do think relationships take time, but I think they’re really important and they benefit everybody.

[WHITNEY]:
So, if someone, and this is a question, I’m asking you this because I get this all the time. So, let’s say someone’s reached out to a church, they did coffee with a pastor had lunch, and then they don’t hear anything or don’t get any referrals for three to six months. Do you think they should reach back out? Check back in or just let it go? Or what would your advice be to that counselor?

[MEG]:
Yeah, I think from time to time, it’s always, you know, a handwritten note, an email, just saying, “My practice is here, and I’m available to you. And it’s funny, it kind of goes in spurts for me too, you know, I may reach out to you three or four times in a month, and then I may go three or four months and not have any contact at all. So, a lot of times, I think it does feel like a one-way relationship. But yeah, I mean, I think it’s always beneficial to make sure that churches and clergy know that you’re there. If you’re doing a workshop, or you’re offering something to the community, just a quick email to let the church or that pastor know that you’re doing that. I think sometimes relationships take a long time and silence isn’t always a bad thing.

[WHITNEY]:
I agree with everything you’re saying. And that’s exactly what I preach to counselors. So, I’m really glad that you’re saying it with this authority as a pastor, because it is so important that you just reach out and a lot of therapists are so intimidated, or they think they’re pushing their practice on somebody and I’m like, “No, they’re just busy. And they have lots of people they’re caring for. And when that person comes in the door that needs one, they’re going to remember that you’re the one that wrote that note or that reached out to them.” And it’s that consistency in working on relationship with the clergy is really important.

[MEG]:
Absolutely. One of the things that I often use as an example, is that I often feel like the clergy are the fire and rescue of ministry. You know, they’re usually the first on the scene and they see the huge collateral damage, and they get the person into the ambulance so to speak, or walk with them in those first few days of grief. But the real truth is, is that that pastor moves on in the day to day to the next crisis, even though they, so the systems and structures are really important, that I talked about earlier, that others come alongside because long after, you know, the fire and the immediate damage is corralled, those embers of hurt and grief and struggle burn for a really long time. So, to help people get connected with Stephen Ministry, or a care team, or especially even a grief counselor, or a Christian counselor. It’s really imperative to their healing.

[WHITNEY]:
That’s such a good analogy of what you’re giving there and as Meg knows, but I don’t know if all of you know that my husband’s a youth pastor and when something happens with those youth, he is first on the scene when a crisis happens. It’s so true. So, Meg, I ask everyone that comes on the show, what do you believe every Christian counselor needs to know?

[MEG]:
I think that they need to know that everyone experiences God through a lens. And that right and wrong, good and bad, are not black and white. There’s a lot of gray in our world and shame is universal. And a client needs to feel seen and heard, a parishioner that walks into my office needs to be seen and heard and that I can listen with non-judgement. And that’s hard because we enjoy it a lot, as a human race, we tend to make really big judgment decisions, but that the anatomy of trust is really understanding, that I can be vulnerable, that I can even fall apart, but it doesn’t diminish my worth, and it doesn’t diminish who I am. And I think that boundaries are so important for all of us. And accountability, that I can make a mistake and own it and that I can also have the ability to make amends. And you know this and you live by this, but I think it never hurts to be reminded that we’re privileged to people’s most intimate moments, and that I won’t tell your secrets, but I won’t tell you other’s secrets either. And I think that that builds trust.

[WHITNEY]:
Definitely.

[MEG]:
And then yeah, and then probably one of the things, that I continually try to remind myself to practice, is gratitude, gratitude for the person that’s sitting in front of me, gratitude for their struggle, even though it’s really hard, and gratitude for the privilege that I was chosen to be the one to hear the struggle. And can I be faithful in helping them make the next right step? Maybe that’s with me, but often, it’s with saying, I can sit with you and I can hear you and I can pray with you. But let me also help you make the brave choice of getting some professional help.

[WHITNEY]:
Your words are lovely. Yeah, and it just kind of brings me back to that place of sometimes I can get so wrapped up in the world of running a business and let’s get as many clients cared for as possible, and it becomes so consuming. Sometimes I forget this just sitting with them and the gift that we offer by just being with someone.

[MEG]:
Yeah.

[WHITNEY]:
Oh, it’s just been great having you on the show and I think you’ve given lots of valuable information for counselors. And so, we really appreciate you being here Meg. And if somebody wants to get in touch with you, what would be the best way to do that?

[MEG]:
They can email me at mprocopio@iohumc.com.

[WHITNEY]:
Great. Well, thank you so much and we’ll put all this in the show notes that y’all can get in touch with Meg if you’d like. Thanks for being on the show.

[MEG]:
And it’s been a privilege to be with you Whitney and I’m so grateful for your work.

[WHITNEY]:
I’m grateful for you as well.

[MEG]:
Take care.

[WHITNEY]:
Thank you for listening to the Faith in Practice podcast. If you love this podcast, please rate and review on iTunes or your favorite podcast player. If you liked this episode and want to know more, check out the Practice of the Practice website. Also, there you can learn more about me, options for working together, such as individual and group consulting, or just shoot me an email whitney@practiceofthepractice.com. We’d love to hear from you.

[WHITNEY]:
This podcast is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. This is given with the understanding that neither the host, Practice of the Practice or the guests, are providing legal, mental health, or other professional information. If you need a professional you should find one.

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